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Chromeo discusses new album 'White Women' and more

Samsung Shape Summer Mix Series With Chromeo
Samsung Shape Summer Mix Series With Chromeo
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Chromeo consisting of David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemaye are having a great summer. Their song "Jealous" off of their new album "White Women" is a huge hit and today on July 1, 2014 they announced their in-flight safety video for the band's newly acquired airline, Mallard Air. This is a fitting announcement since the guys will be on their "Frequent Flyer Tour" across North America this fall.

The band participated in Samsung’s Shape Summer Mix Series at the Mondrian Hotel and we are excited to share some highlights from the intimate conversation.

So it’s been four years since "Business Casual" so you guys have been through some personal and professional changes since then. For one thing, you guys quit your day jobs. Tell us about that.

David: Well yeah it’s true we did. When you said personal changes it sounded very solemn. It sounds very introspective. I was still teaching at Columbia and at Barnard until a couple of years ago and P moved to Montreal. I guess the idea was to really challenge ourselves musically on this record and to create conditions that were different than the ones that we used to work on in the past. So whereas before we used to work at a distance and regroup in Montreal, New York and London wherever and kind of do studio binges. For this record we chose to get a studio together in New York. I stopped all my teaching and academic activities and we both decided to concentrate full time on the record that was being worked on that was the most challenging of our careers. So that’s where we choose to finish. We really wanted to push ourselves and challenge ourselves because it was album number four! So we’re like okay what do we do now that most people think they got Chromeo figured out. So we kind of set a new bar for ourselves and really work harder than we did before. The record on one hand is more musically ambitious than our previous work and also "poppier" than our previous work.

Can you tell us what were some of the variables you had to overcome and what were those challenges.

David: We went through a bunch of new purchases. Technically we bought more synthesizers and our system was still the same, from 1992. The process was similar, just being in the same city and being in each other’s presence that changed a lot of the process.

Patrick: We also opened the studio up. We’ve never had collaborators before and this was our most open record. The credits read almost like a Kanye album and that’s what we wanted, that was inspiring for us to have collaborators like Solange .... and Vampire Weekend.

Can you speak more about the process?

David: You know it’s so funny because people will have an impression of a record we make. It’s not necessarily what we thought about when we worked on the music but it becomes the truth. Cause what really happened between P and I, no one will ever know and it doesn’t really matter. What’s interesting to us is that shared experience between everyone that listens to it. So as the reviews started trickling in, everybody decided that is was our more live album. I don’t know if it’s more live than our previous stuff or less live, I can never tell you but I like the idea that people got the impression that this album had more of a live feel cause we definitely went in with a lot more instruments, we just didn’t know that was going to be the takeaway and it’s great that it is, true or not.

What can you say about your upcoming tour?

David: What we can say is that everything that we do even if there’s some humor in there, has to feel like a cohesive art project. With this album, you really see the shift from Chromeo the quirky electric band to Chromeo the performance artists where the kind of visual language extends beyond just music videos. If we were going to call it a Frequent Flyer, we want there to be a whole project or enterprise around it almost like it just makes a story.

What's on your summer playlist?

David: We have "Jealous" and "Come Alive" and "Over Your Shoulder," this is like the playlist we made. There’s a reason for that. This is our summer playlist, and for us Frequent Flyer is more for the Fall hence the Fall Tour.

David plays come alive in the background.

David: So again, the idea was to collaborate with contemporary artists. Like there’s a lot of retro talk about Chromeo and we wear that on our sleeves. We were one of the first people to come out in the 80’s. At the same time our music is now and the dialogue it establishes with other contemporary artists, someone like Toro is a great example of that. There’s also another is thing that every girl I was hanging out with while we were working on this album had a crush on him and it made me very jealous. I didn’t really know Toro, neither did P so we got into the music and we’re like oh he’s really good ... He’s like the honorary third member.

What inspired "Jealous"?

David: Jealous which just won gold in Canada today. Jealous was an example of a song that—what’s cool about this event is that there’s a lot of journalists that followed us for years. There’s a lot of you that have followed us for days that we would prefer to forget. If we had a show for people not liking us, this would have been a full house in 2004. And so to some of the people that have been following us for a while, they think well "Jealous" is just the quintessential Chromeo song, all the things are there the catchiness, the 80’s references but Jealous is actually the most high arcane track. Everything that Chromeo’s ever been about but in something so powerful that we could bring it to radio and you know it can be like a top 40 record. So in a way, it’s the record that we’re most proud of because a lot of people make sacrifices to make the top 40. We just made the quintessential Chromeo track.

And we feel really cool having a song like "Jealous" that goes places that a band never would. We can say oh well there’s a mood on there, all these vintage synthesizers on there and I talk about things that you don’t really hear about in mainstream music. We kind of wanted to write the song from the perspective of the anti-hero and there’s like a meta mentioned to it, you know like I’m jealous but I’m too cool to admit it. P was very optimistic about "Jealous" from the get go. I’m never optimistic, I’m like very pessimistic it’s like the it’s never gonna go right thing. That way you’re always pleasantly surprised. That way you’re basically always setting yourself up to be pleasantly surprised.

How is touring coming along?

David: The shows have been going really well. The same sort of high standards that we impose upon ourselves for the album sort of translated that way to the shows, so we just started to kind of revamp our entire stage show. Because then again, we’ve played every festival, people have these expectations associated with Chromeo and we need to kind of trump them a little bit so we basically spend all our recording and publishing advances building a new stage setup where everything is done up by a French contemporary artist. He’s a crazy guy from Paris to create these giant cubes you might have seen in Terminal 5 and there’s like 2 way mirrors and so the fourth show we played was Coachella main stage. P and I don’t usually get nervous but before that show we were nervous. I remember P was dressed in like roadie attire with Harley Davidson Headband and Sweatpants, he was like fussing before the show and running around.

Patrick: I had to do the changeover with the crew and I just guided myself on the floor running left and right on stage.

David: It was like 50,000 people there when we played on the main stage. Right as it got dark, was an amazing time, an amazing time slot. Once we finished, we had no idea, we were just like okay chill this might have gone really really well.

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